David L. Woods asks why there have been "no words of wisdom, or otherwise," in this space with regard to charging government workers commercial rates for parking.
One point that should have been emphasized in our coverage, says District Liner Woods, is that "50 percent of federal employees have always been forced to pay commercial rates. This runs some $1,200 at some downtown agencies. So far it has cost me $4,000 since I moved from the Pentagon to Crystal City nearly a decade ago."
Woods adds, "I've always wondered why one agency should be able to provide 'free' or low-cost parking while others require substantial payments. And don't get me started on those outfits that give discount parking only to top echelon folks.
"The public shouldn't think that all government workers are free-loading cheapskates. Please advise them."
Hearing no objection, the chair orders inclusion of these comments in the permanent record of the great parking debate. Parking plums have been unevenly distributed in the past, and even under the new system some people will probably be more favored than others.
Before I offer any more "words of wisdom, or otherwise," let me note a conflict of interest.
I benefit from low-cost parking.
The Washington Post provides low-cost parking for hundreds of its employees, both on its own property and by contract with nearby commercial parking facilities.
To those who work during the day, cheap parking is merely a welcome fringe benefit, not a fundamental issue at the bargaining table. However, to the many who work at night -- the printers, pressmen, stereotypers, computer operators, photoengravers, circulation employees and some reporters and editors -- affordable nearby parking facilities are a major factor in making job decisions.
Many of these people live in areas that are not served by mass transit. Others could use mass transit if they held daytime jobs, but no suitable service is available for them at 1,2,3 or 4 a.m. The women in this work force are especially reluctant to walk the streets at night to distant parking spaces.
As the beneficiary of a low-cost parking program, I am not in a good position to comment on Mr. Carter's decision to make government workers pay commercial rates for their parking.
It is unquestionably in the national interest to encourage the use of mass transit and discourage the use of private autos; and one way to do this is to jack up the cost of parking.
However, to reach a valid judgment on how quickly and how high parking fees should rise, one must take many other factors into account. I am not a disinterested party and must therefore refrain from expressing an opinion.
The Carter administration is surely aware that some people must work at night and some are not served by mass transit at any hour of the day or night. I must assume, therefore, that the policy that will be followed will be one that thoughtful administrators deem best for all of us. If inequitable or unnecessary hardships result, suggestions for change will be in order. Meanwhile, the energy shortage is a clear and present danger, and our response to it must be orchestrated by the officials we vote into office. REBUTTAL
My report that 13th Street will cease to be a reversible one-way commuter artery on Jan. 7 included reference to the D.C. Transportation Department's goal of reducing auto fumes. A postcard from B. J. inquires:
"How do you figure that slow, start-and-stop traffic produces less fumes than a smooth, rapid flow of cars on an efficient one-way route.?"
I didn't fugure it, friend. That's the official policy line. It is probably based on the assumption that far fewer autos will use 13th Street, not on the assumption that each car will spew out a smaller volume of exhaust. I have no basis for challenging an assumption made by experts. EPPERSON'S LAW
Murphy's Law says that if something can go wrong, it will. Gold's Law gives the example that a piece of buttered bread will always fall with the buttered side down -- which is of little importance to people who won't eat a piece of bread that has fallen to the floor, regardless of which side was up.
However, Don Epperson of the Texas Tourist Council narrows the issue a bit with the observation:
"The probability of bread falling with its buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet it falls on."
Incidentally, Epperson says he thinks 15 cents is a fair price for postage on a letter from Texas to Washington. "That's only a penny a day," he points out.